Parliament rejects patchwork laws

Irked by the habitual government practice of squeezing last-minute legislative amendments on diverse matters into draft laws on totally unrelated subjects, Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis forced the government yesterday to withdraw three key amendments. During a debate on a law on reforming the Social Security Foundation (IKA), the ministries of Finance and Development tried to insert three amendments concerning taxation of repurchase agreements (repos) and tax breaks on fuel, court jurisdiction on expropriations, and government-fixed prices of medicines. All three were introduced at the last minute, and in the last session ahead of next week’s debate on the budget. Opposition New Democracy reacted angrily. This is not serious behavior on the part of the government, party parliamentary spokesman Dimitris Sioufas complained. The Left Coalition also objected strenuously. Kaklamanis told Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis that both the constitution and parliamentary regulations forbid last-minute submissions of irrelevant amendments during legislative debates without the assent of the opposition. This is a slight to Parliament, he said. After lengthy negotiations with ND, Kaklamanis proposed that only the amendment on tax breaks should be discussed, and the others left for later. But the government insisted that all three or none should be passed.

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